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Gov’t cancels Water Festival

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The Water Festival in Phnom Penh last year. The festival was scheduled to take place between October 30 and November 1 this year. Hong Menea

Gov’t cancels Water Festival

The government has cancelled the annual three-day Phnom Penh Water Festival that was scheduled to take place from October 30 to November 1.

The news came in a letter from the Office of the Council of Ministers that was sent to Kong Sam Ol, the chairman of the National Committee for Organising National and International Festivals.

The letter – sighted by The Post on Thursday – was dated August 11 and said the government had decided to halt to the water festival this year. The letter did not give reasons for the suspension.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan said on Thursday he was unaware of the matter as he had not yet seen the letter. But he said it is likely a result of Covid-19.

Covid-19 cases have increased dramatically in recent weeks in Cambodia as the upcoming Aug 17-21 holidays approach, said the Ministry of Health.

The ministry has expressed concern and warned the people to remain extremely vigilant against the coronavirus due to the recent spike in infections.

Ministry spokesperson Or Vandine has repeatedly said that local transmission remains a real danger.

“We can forget Covid-19, but Covid-19 never forgets us. Hence, citizens should not be at peace with Covid-19,” she said.

The Water Festival is held every year along the Tonle Sap River in the autumn and draws thousands of revellers and spectators to the river bank.

The highlight of the Water Festival is the traditional boat races held at Chatomuk, the area in front of the Royal Palace where the Tonle Sap merges with the Mekong.

The rowing regattas, although only re-established in 1990 after a 20-year hiatus, date back many centuries into Khmer antiquity and many are uncertain as to their origins.

But it won’t be the first time it has been cancelled. The water festival was also called off when King Father Norodom Sihanouk passed away in 2012.

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